Italians flock to become German citizens

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Overall 112,350 foreigners gained German citizenship last year. Berlin photo: Shutterstock
10:11 CEST+02:00
There has been a 25.1 percent jump in the number of Italians taking up German citizenship, new figures show. The Local speaks to an Italian in Frankfurt to find out how life can be better across the border.

A total of 2,754 Italians gained German citizenship last year, an increase of 25.1 percent on 2012, according to figures from the Federal Statistics Office.

With Italy tipping back into recession, the economic reasons for making the move stand out. But Alessandro Speciale, an Italian journalist at Bloomberg in Frankfurt, said the reasons go beyond finances.

“It’s easier to find a job in the first place and then ‘move up’ once you are in. Public services usually work very well, especially if you have children it is much easier.

“Why stay in Italy, when you can actually bloom and even enjoy life in Germany?” he told The Local.

Having moved to Frankfurt in January, Speciale has not yet taken up German citizenship: “In the EU there is really no reason for doing so; you enjoy the same rights everywhere.

“As long as Italy remains in the euro area and the EU, we would see no reason for taking up citizenship. If we were were to stay here decades we could consider doing it for our daughter Costanza, who’s starting German kindergarten next September.”

Like many Italians, Speciale is unsure how long he and his family will stay in Germany. For many people, he said returning to Italy rests on the prime minister’s reforms: “Matteo Renzi faces a tough battle to change the ingrained immobilism of Italian society. If he fails, many of those who would love nothing better than to go back home will find it harder to do so.”

Italians aside, more than 100,000 other foreigners gained German citizenship last year. 

While Italians represented the biggest year-on-year change, they sat to eighth place in the list of nationalities.

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Turkish people topped the chart with 27,970 residents getting German citizenship, although the numbers fell by 16 percent on 2012.

Far behind in second place came the Poles, with 5,466 new German citizens, followed by Ukrainians (4,539). The number of successful applications by Ukrainians jumped by 23 percent, while there was an increase of 21.5 percent by Poles.

The most attractive state for foreigners is North Rhine-Westphalia, in the west of Germany, welcoming almost 30,000 new German citizens in 2013.  

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